I’ve been diving on tropical coral reefs since I first strapped on a scuba tank at Julian Rocks off Byron Bay in 2000. Since then I’ve lived and worked in South East Asia, the heart of marine biodiversity, as an underwater cameraman. I’ve racked up over 8,000hrs filming and photographing coral reefs and their inhabitants over those 19 years in locations including Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Maldives, Egypt, Bahamas and many more.
Back when I started out it felt like new, and ever more amazing coral reefs were being found constantly. The Similans in Thailand was spectacular and a new must-dive destination in the early noughties, Then the Andamans, Palau, and Komodo hit the scene. Followed up by the icing on the cake, Raja Ampat. Raja boasted the most diverse coral reefs ever studied and over 1,500 species of fish. In the first decade of this millennium it seemed like our planet held unbelievable underwater secrets that would continually be discovered. Slowly though those new and pristine discoveries dried up. And then the more popular spots lost their lustre. Over-dived, over-fished, hit by crown-of-thorns outbreaks, destroyed by violent storms... the reasons were myriad but the results were the same - degraded reefs. All of a sudden there were only a handful of remote, hard-to-get-to sites left that could truly be called pristine. And now even those are under threat from probably the biggest issue facing these underwater cities; coral bleaching.